“The Government is continuing to use the free school programme as its sole approach to creating new school places in England when we know that it is failing to deliver the right number of places, in the right locations and in the phase of education in which new places are needed.

“The Local Government Association (LGA) recently warned that England would face a severe shortage of secondary school places within the next five years.(1) The LGA has calculated that more than half the local authorities in England will be unable to meet demand and expect a shortfall of 134,000 places.

“The NEU agrees with the LGA that councils should be allowed to open new maintained schools and direct academies to expand where they have capacity. This situation is now urgent and the Government must end its obsession with free schools and provide the mechanism by which local authorities can fulfil their responsibilities to families to ensure all children and young people have access to a good local school within their locality.”